By Catherine Somerville of Sustainable Wallingford.

TO buy local, or to shop online?

That’s been the dilemma for many of us for a long time.

There is no denying that, in the words of an old TV ad, letting your fingers do the walking while you are relaxing at home is the easier option.

It’s great sitting with the tablet or your phone, browsing the things you are interested in and comparing prices, or just to get the weekly grocery shopping organised – especially at certain busy times of our lives.

If you are working full-time and family life is demanding, it can often be difficult to get round your local shops.

They tend to be open from 9am to 5pm while you are at work: owing to lower staffing levels, local shops are not often open at the after-work hours many of the big stores and supermarkets can offer.

Then you are limited to shopping locally on a Saturday.

That also means you miss the opportunity to buy local at the weekday markets.

Shopping local, as we all know, keeps a town alive and thriving.

It keeps your cash local so businesses can employ local people.

It encourages us to take more interest in what is happening locally.

Also, there are our carbon emissions to consider.

Buying local, whether it is through a website or going out in person to shops, keeps your shopping miles lower.

That helps to keep your carbon emissions lower too.

To keep residents buying local, other towns, such as Totnes in Devon or Lewes in East Sussex, or even Faringdon in Oxfordshire, have gone down the local currency route, producing local notes.

That sounds like a good idea in many ways.

But it means you have to keep local notes in a separate purse or wallet so that you don’t accidentally try to spend them outside that area.

That could all be about to change now.

There is a new kid on the block. It is called The Big Small Shop. It is a website for local businesses.

It is designed to let you browse local businesses, local shops, trades, gardeners, hairdressers etc, and book a service or place an order online.

Goods can be delivered. This is a great initiative by a local family.

This link takes you there:

Shopping online, but keeping it local, sounds to me like the ideal solution.